March 12- along the Rivanna

Rained all night, and it was still dumping down rain when I woke up before dawn (the downside of daylight savings time) to load the tofu truck, in the rain.  Drove to Charlottesville in the rain, and made my delivery rounds in the rain.  Then, just before lunchtime, it all blew away, ushering in the most sunny pleasant late winter/early spring day one could hope for.  So I parked the truck behind a strip mall and climbed down through the woods to the Rivanna Trail, which follows the river along its east side.  The river was muddy brown, running fast, swollen with all that rain on top of all the snowmelt of the past week.Image

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Numerous branches and chunks of trees were floating down the river, a couple times I spotted entire trunks.  Definitely not a day for a nice dip!Image

The trail passed over many small creeks flowing in from the side; when I hiked this trail before (in early Jan– one of my first entries of the year), they were just trickling along; today they were impressive muddy torrents.  Fortunately the trail was well-maintained, with sturdy footbridges over the creeks, otherwise it would have made for some dicey fords!Image

As in the forests of Twin Oaks, there was plenty of bright green moss all over, ecstatic with warmer temperatures and abundant moisture. Image

I especially enjoyed the green blanket-like covering on these sunny rocks just above the river.

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Most of the trail passed through mature hardwood forest, but there were a number of small clearings, mostly in places where power transmission lines passed overhead.  In these spots there was an abundance of newly-grown mullein, also known as the “toilet paper plant.”  I even had an opportunity to use some, but I’m sure no one wants to know the details!Image

There were also signs that the fungal drought of late winter may be ending.  I found another patch of wood ear fungus, which I discovered has a pretty fascinating Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auricularia_auricula-judae) and is definitely edible.  I took it home, but haven’t tried it yet.  I also came across some baby oysters, the first fresh ones I’ve seen in over a month.  They seemed too small to pick, and they were so cute growing out of the top of a tree stump that had snapped off that I left ’em to grow some more.

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Further along, I came across this spring erupting rather copiously from the top of a small rock face and splashing joyfully down the rock, watering a hanging garden of little green weeds of some type.  It was an extremely spring-like scene, not the sort of thing you would see in early January!Image

Just a few steps further, some steps led down to another rock outcropping with a nice view across the river.  It seemed as good a place as any to rest for a few minutes, declare a successful outing, and walk back to the truck.

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In other non-related seasonal news, I spotted yesterday my first wasp, an ominous sign; and today I heard spring peeper frogs for the first time, a much more auspicious “first.”

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